Imagining an urban traveler’s spiritual pilgrimage through the Himalayas to Tibet, Vivienne Tam strives to conjure the concepts of unity, wholeness, and infinity through practical cold-weather ensembles in her Fall/Winter 2018 collection.
Inspired by the infinite essence of love and the vibrant culture and topography of Tibet, Tam took a maximalist design approach, holding nothing back when it came to layering and mixing textures, patterns, and colors. Each look features a variety of fabrics like wool, silk, corduroy, tulle mesh, and lace in earthy tones like burnt orange, khaki, burgundy, and deep turquoise. Complex floral and tribal prints are contrasted with classic plaids. Fringed sweaters, beaded jewelry, and tassel belts and bags reinforce the folk theme. The loose and heavily layered silhouettes are rooted in Tibetan nomadic traditions, and the mixture of contrasting elements to achieve a kind of balance and wholeness is symbolic of the yin and yang in traditional Chinese philosophy. Each model was styled with a sleek yet messy ponytail, reflecting the convergence of luxury fashion and a rugged spiritual journey.
An ambient soundtrack of repeated “Om’s” and meditative drums that pulsated as the models walked down the runway complemented the symbology of Tibetan Buddhism infused in the collection. Tantric meditation deity Tara serves as its muse. “Tara green” is a frequently appearing accent color, and images of Tara, as well as Mandalas, are hand embroidered onto tops and jackets. Mandalas, which represent the universe in Buddhism, also appear in more abstract forms, such as long, gathered, patterned skirts that resemble draped mandalas.
The layering and fabric choices are not only aesthetically intriguing but also practical, particularly for the spiritual mountaineer Vivienne Tam envisioned while designing the collection. Almost every look features a form of heavy outerwear, whether it be a quilted parka, a shearling-lined jacket, or a boxy overcoat. Tam is recognized as a vanguard in merging fashion and technology, and in her Fall/Winter 2018 collection, she incorporates smart textiles like hi-tech conductive material and knits to ensure warmth and comfort as well as style. Even more forward-thinking, certain coats and sweaters contain conductive fabric with a power source for added heat without added bulkiness. By reinventing traditional nomadic styles rooted in a centuries-long tradition to reflect modern urban staples and the future of cold weather fashion, Tam unites the past, present, and future and conveys a profound sense of timelessness.
Photos by Dan Lecca and Reyna Wang